Interview Question and Answer Guide - Tell me about yourself
May 2nd, 2023
Interviewing can be an exciting opportunity, but it can also be nerve-wracking. One of the most common questions asked in interviews is “Tell me about yourself.” Although this question may sound simple, it can be challenging to answer correctly. In this article, we will provide you with tips on how to answer this question and leave a lasting first impression.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
Before we dive into how to answer this question, let's first understand why interviewers ask it. The primary purpose of this question is to get to know you better and understand what you bring to the table. It acts as an introduction to the interview and helps the interviewer decide what to ask next. The way you answer this question will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so it’s important to get it right.
What makes a good answer?
A good answer to “Tell me about yourself” should be structured, tailored, and based on your experience and achievements. Let’s break this down further:
Structured - Your answer should follow a simple, easy-to-follow format. Every good answer to “Tell me about yourself” should consist of Work, Academic, and Personal. Your work experience and achievements should make up about 80% of your answer, followed by 10-15% academic background, and finally, the last 5-10% should be about you as a person, while still keeping it relevant to the company.
We also recommend sticking to the “Past-Present-Future” formula. This means structuring your answer as follows:
The past - What is your background and relevant work experience? How did you get to where you are now?
The present - What is your current role? What do you do, and what are your top accomplishments?
The future - What are you looking to do next? Why are you interested in the position?
Tailored - Your answer should be tailored to the job you're applying for. Don't talk about irrelevant work experiences or achievements that are not related to the job you are interviewing for. This will show the interviewer that you have done your research and understand what the job requires.
Based on experience and achievements - Your answer should consist of your background, relevant work experience, top achievements, and interests. You want to highlight your unique selling points that make you stand out from the other candidates.
Now that we have covered what makes a good answer let’s dive into seven essential tips for answering the question “Tell me about yourself”:
Research the company - Before going into the interview, take some time to research the company you are interviewing with. Look at their website, social media pages, news articles, and any other relevant sources to get a sense of their mission, values, products, and culture. This will help you tailor your answer to fit the company and position you are applying for.
Know your audience - It’s important to keep in mind who you're talking to. If you're being interviewed by the CTO or the hiring manager, you can be as techie as you want. But, if you're being interviewed by the HR manager, keep it more generic and focus on your career and reasons for applying to the company.
Practice active listening - Pay close attention to the interviewer's body language, tone of voice, and the questions they ask during the interview. This will give you clues on what they are looking for in a candidate and what they are interested in learning more about. You can then tailor your answer to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements.
Be honest and authentic - While it's important to present yourself in the best light possible during an interview, it's also important to be honest and authentic. Don't exaggerate your skills or experiences, as this could come back to bite you later. Instead, focus on highlighting your genuine strengths and achievements.
Show enthusiasm and passion - Companies want to hire candidates who are passionate about their work and motivated to make a difference. Show your enthusiasm for the position and the company by highlighting your specific interests and goals. This will help you stand out from other candidates who may be less engaged.
Keep it professional and brief - When answering this question, try to keep it under 2 minutes, at most. The interviewer doesn't want to know your entire life story, so stick to your main selling points that are relevant to the job.
Structure your answer in a way that makes sense. Stick to the past-present-future format, and you’re all good!
By following these tips, candidates interviewing for tech jobs can create a strong first impression and set themselves up for success in the interview process.
At Zuse Talent, we're here to guide you through the interview process every step of the way. If you are looking for a role across tech, analytics or data, we're here to help.